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Challenge to CPS decision on Greville Janner’s trial for alleged child abuse

Published April 19, 2015 by JS2

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All Parliamentary candidates have the same access to Government offices as MPs. 
I have used this privilege to write about the failure of the CPS to bring Greville Janner to court.
I would like to see this argument taken up by the media, but paradoxically, candidates cannot access the media during the election period, because the other candidates will object of unfair coverage.
To get round this I am inviting the other candidates in Weston (Lab, Libdem, Con and UKIP) to copy this letter, send it to the Attorney General, and then we can publicise what we have done together. It will help the cause of justice, and also raise the profile of Weston super Mare.
So, Tim, John, John and Ernie – are you with me on this? 
Use the comments slot below.
See my Wiki on child abuse by VIPs here.

Attorney General’s Office
Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0NF
correspondence@attorneygeneral.gsi.gov.uk

19 April, 2015

Dear Attorney General

Reference: CPS decision on Lord Janner of Blackstone

I write in my capacity as a potential Member of Parliament to challenge the decision of the DPP, Alison Saunders, not to prosecute Lord Janner for alleged crimes, namely 16 indecent assaults between 1969 and 1988, and 6 counts of buggery on under aged boys between 1972 and 1988.

I have read the CPS’ justification for their decision here http://cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/lord_janner/.

Please do not refer this letter downwards to the CPS, and please do not treat it as a complaint against the CPS. I have been in lengthy correspondence with the CPS and have used their complaint service already, and I have no confidence in their decisions and processes, for the reasons set out below. I wish to challenge the judgment of the DPP directly. This is now a matter for the Chief Law Officer.
Alison Saunders in her justification document accepts that the evidential basis for a criminal prosecution of Janner is sound. However, she argues that there is no public interest in prosecuting him because he is unfit to plead.

She bases this argument on the evidence of four medical experts who agree that he has dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, and that they have  “general agreement” as to the level of cognitive ability on a Mini  Mental State examination.

However, there is no reference to any brain scan having been carried our. If scans were performed but reports on the scans were left out of the CPS justification document, there has been a failure of due diligence in reporting, and Saunders should be rebuked.

If on the other hand brain scans on Janner were not performed, there has been serious negligence. In my extensive correspondence with the CPS on this case I explicitly requested several times that brain scans should be carried out, because they give objective evidence that goes far beyond medical history taking and examination. If they were not carried out Saunders should be invited to consider her position.
If we accept for the sake of argument that Janner is indeed suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, there are three precedents where paedophiles have been tried and convicted of sexual crimes against children. The names are David Massingham, John Hayford and Michael Collingwood. I can supply references if requested, but the CPS should be able to find them.

Either Alison Saunders knew of these cases and negligently failed to deal with them in her report, or she did not know of them, in which case there was a failure of due diligence as a lawyer.
There is no provision in the CPS Code of Practice to exempt people with dementia from facing trial. In the absence of such provision, but in the presence of sufficient evidential basis to proceed, Alison Saunders has used the public interest test.

Now clearly there is a major public interest in bringing to court people who are abused of serious sexual crimes against children, especially children who for one reason or another were in the care of public organisations.

First, sexual abuse has a devastating effect on the subsequent lives of survivors of abuse, and there is a need to demonstrate that society will not tolerate child abuse, even if carried out by VIPs.

Second, the Law itself comes into disrepute if there is a public perception that VIP status confers immunity against justice. You must be aware that already there exists a common perception that this is the case. This view is particularly prevalent in the community of survivors of sexual abuse. If Janner escapes trial, this perception will increase, both among survivors and among the general public. It is not in the public interest for there to be a perception that there is one law for the rich, another for the poor.

Against these two major public interest arguments, the CPS advances the minor public interest argument that money spent in bringing Janner to court could be wasted as he is likely to be judged unfit to plead. This argument is extremely weak. The expenditure would be trivial in comparison with other cases that have failed.

The precedents referred to above are worthy of being considered in court.

Most importantly, a major legal argument needs to be entertained, namely whether a person who passes the evidential test but who might not be fit to plead for reasons of dementia should be tried as if in absentia.
The defence could test the evidence given by Janner’s alleged victims. His accusers could be invited to ask if they can positively identify him, possibly by reference to body characteristics such as moles.
It should be noted also that in coming to her conclusion, Saunders rejected advice of one of UK’s principal authorities on sex offences. Eleanor Laws QC,  leading counsel to Leicestershire police’s investigation into Janner, recommended that he be put on trial despite his age and dementia.

In the light of this, the DPP must have consulted with other people in coming to her decision. The names of these people, the advice they gave, and the degree of pressure that they put on the DPP should be made clear to the public.

In conclusion, let me summarise the questions I am raising:
1. The question of whether or not scans have been carried out must be settled.
2. The question of precedents must be considered.
3. The question of public interest, major and minor, needs to be reviewed.
4. Who gave advice to the DPP to persuade her to come to her conclusion?

I look forward to a timely response to all the points made in this letter.

Respectfully yours

Dr Richard Lawson
MB BS, MRCPsych
Parliamentary Candidate, Weston Constituency, Green Party

Original can be found here  http://greenerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/challenge-to-cps-decision-on-greville.html

Nearly 70 per cent of child sex abuse cases in Leicestershire unsolved

Published March 23, 2015 by JS2

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Nearly 70 per cent of reports of child sex abuse in Leicestershire have remained unsolved, according to figures released by the police.

The force has published statistics about the number of complaints of sexual offences dating back 18 years, following a Freedom of Information request.

They show there were 7,834 such crimes recorded between 1997 and 2014 – but 5,479 are listed as undetected.

That means no charges or summonses to court were made after they were investigated by officers.

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Former foster carer Clive Langley, who lives near Market Harborough, submitted the request for the figures.

He said: “The first thing that struck me was the large numbers of complaints going back over the years.

“There have been nearly 8,000 cases and we know child sexual abuse so often goes unreported.

“Then you see that most cases go undetected and you ask why.

“I would want to know if the police have the resources to deal with these kinds of offences or if they are given the priority they ought to be.

“In other areas, we have found out the police have not believed girls who told them they had been abused.”

Leicestershire Police’s head of serious crime, Detective Superintendent Jon Brown, insisted officers had the resources to deal with inquiries and that handling them was a key priority.

He said: “I can absolutely guarantee that all cases are robustly investigated.

“We will record (the crime) at the first point of contact.

“We have dedicated child abuse officers who are specially trained. And we are absolutely victim focused. That has come from the very top.”

Det Supt Brown said the high level of undetected cases was down to the complex nature of the crimes .

He said: “We are talking about the most sensitive investigations.

“We work alongside specialist Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and we look at what is in the best interests of the victims.

“We have the tools we need. We have the specialist officers and specialist child abuse investigators.”

The Mercury asked Dept Supt Brown if there were organised gangs of men grooming children in Leicester as in other parts of the country.

He said: “I can’t compare ourselves with what’s happening in other parts of the country. We are collecting intelligence. But this isn’t a taboo subject.

“We need people to raise it. If they have concerns about somebody in their community that could be the missing part of the jigsaw.”

Leicester Mercury

Police rebuked over handling of interviews with child sex abuse victims

Published December 18, 2014 by JS2

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Recorded interviews of child sex abuse victims have revealed inappropriate questioning by police and poor compliance with guidelines on gathering evidence, according to a highly critical inspectorate report.

Rooms for interviewing vulnerable toddlers are rarely child-friendly, DVD recordings are at risk of being lost because they are inadequately labelled, and the needs of the child were considered in only a small proportion of cases reviewed, a combined criminal justice inquiry has warned.

The study by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has recommended improved training and additional guidance for sensitive interviews with children, many of whom are often as young as four- or five-years-old.

The inspection came in the wake of the scandal over Jimmy Savile, and amid a sharp increase in the number of child sexual abuse and rape cases being investigated.

The criminal justice system is currently piloting the pre-recorded cross-examination of child witnesses in an effort to prevent them from going through a lengthy courtroom ordeal.

“Inappropriate praise or congratulations were communicated to the witness in several cases,” the report found. In one case an “interviewer encouraged the witness to touch the officer on the bottom to demonstrate the alleged offence”; in others the child was occasionally left alone.

“Too often interviewers focused on concepts which present difficulties for children, such as dates and times, length and frequency of events, and weight, height and age estimates. This was evident even in cases involving very young children,” the report, Achieving Best Evidence in Child Sexual Abuse Cases, noted.

Around 70 interviews were examined by the inspectorates, which found there was often insufficient preparation before children were questioned. The audio and visual quality of the recordings was not always satisfactory, the report found.

Interview rooms in which young victims give evidence appeared “sterile with little thought for putting children at ease, and not child-friendly”, the study added.

“Child sexual abuse witnesses and victims are being short-changed by the criminal justice system,” said Michael Fuller, the chief inspector of the CPS. “Police and [prosecutors] need to offer children more support for these delicate and often difficult interviews.

“We owe it to them to ensure that these pre-recorded interviews are carried out in a rigorous manner, to ensure fairness and to achieve the best evidence possible.”

Dru Sharpling, one of HM’s Inspectors of Constabulary, said: “We were very concerned to find that children in cases of sexual exploitation and rape are being let down. They aren’t being provided with the support they need to give their ‘best’ evidence to the court.

“Inspectors found poor compliance with best practice guidance, poor planning and quality assurance, and insufficient consideration of the needs of vulnerable children. The gap between best practice and actual practice is widening.”

Owen Boycott

I was ready to testify about the abuse I suffered as a child – but I can’t as long as Fiona Woolf chairs the inquiry

Published October 24, 2014 by JS2

Fiona-Woolf

Witnesses are vulnerable, and they need to have complete faith in the system

As someone who suffered child abuse in the children’s home I grew up in during the 1960s and 70s, I saw the Government inquiry into the scandal not just as an opportunity to observe institutions finally being made accountable for their woeful neglect – but also as an opportunity to go before the inquiry and spell out what happened to me.  But as long as Fiona Woolf is in charge I am not prepared to do that.

When, earlier this year, I wrote about what happened to me, I received many messages of support from members of the public, and heart-warmingly, gained support from friends with whom I grew up.  More often than not, they shared the same harrowing experiences.  The child abuse was systematic in my children’s home in Surrey.  From the age of five I was violently attacked by a member of staff and once sexually assaulted by a member of the medical profession.

Even though many of my ‘brothers and sisters’ are now in their late forties and early fifties, they are still trying to come to terms with the atrocious acts inflicted on them when they were at their most vulnerable.  When they reached their adult years, some turned to drink or drugs in an attempt to erase all memory of their suffering.  A number of tortured souls were unable to look after their own children.  A few I know still receive counselling.  What we all have in common is that we have been absolutely failed by every institution that had a care of duty to protect us.  Among this sorry list includes the social services, local councils, government, police forces and the Crown Prosecution Services.

So when Theresa May first stood up in Parliament and announced that there would be an inquiry into historical child abuse, I knew I wanted to testify.

Bearing witness can be a traumatic and overwhelming experience.  I know people who find the prospect of doing so impossible.  And with all this deep-seated hurt, betrayal and anger, it was imperative that the appointed chair of this inquiry could gain the trust of every victim who stood in front of them.  Sufferers have to be confident that they will be granted a fair hearing and that those who played a role in any institution will be questioned and interrogated without bias and favour.

With news emerging concerning the second appointed chair, Fiona Woolf, and her links to Lord Brittan, that fragile confidence has been completely undermined.  It was under Lord Brittan’s watch when he was Home Secretary that a dossier detailing alleged Westminster paedophiles went missing.  Ms Woolf and Lord Brittan, we learn, have swapped polite conversations at home dinners. Ms Woolf has sipped coffee with Lord Brittan’s wife, and they live on the same affluent London street.  They are hardly nervous strangers who have been forced to sit together on a packed bus.

I was one of the few I know who wanted to testify to this inquiry.  I’m not aware or haven’t been told of how I would go about this but it was my intention to relate my experiences to whatever panel sat in front of me.  I will no longer seek to achieve this if Fiona Woolf still remains chair of the inquiry, because of her social ties to Lord Brittan.  She should resign.  What’s more, she shouldn’t cling on to her post to save the credibility of Theresa May. Inspiring confidence in the victims is far more important than that.  I don’t give a damn about ministerial reputations but I care passionately about victims baring their souls.  I urge the Home Secretary to retreat to her office, put the phone off the hook, take out her contacts book, and think again.

Alex Wheatle

Sex-risk children ‘let down by Sheffield police’

Published October 22, 2014 by JS2

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Ms Lucas led the Sexual Exploitation Service in Sheffield until 2012 

Hundreds of young people at risk of child sexual exploitation in Sheffield were let down by police, a whistleblower has claimed.

Ann Lucas, who ran the city’s sexual exploitation service, told BBC News she had regularly passed details about alleged abusers to senior officers.

They had repeatedly failed to act, she said, adding the force’s priorities had been “burglary and car crime”.

South Yorkshire Police said the allegations would be investigated.

The force is already facing an investigation following the publication of an independent report in August that accused it of failing child-exploitation victims in Rotherham.

That report found at least 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period.

‘Exploitation gangs’

However, Sheffield, just six miles from Rotherham, was seen as a model for tackling child sexual exploitation.

In 1997, the council set up a unit to look at the problems of young girls engaged in prostitution in the city.

The aim was to understand what drove them to it and to treat them as victims, not criminals.

In 2001, the city secured Home Office funding to set up the Sexual Exploitation Service, bringing together council, voluntary and health services.

The police were also involved, initially providing a constable to work with the team on a part-time basis.

In later years, the police provided some funding to the service and increased the commitment of the part-time officer.

“I felt for years that I was banging my head against a brick wall because it wasn’t a priority”

Between 2001 and 2013, at least 668 young people, mainly girls, were referred to service, according to figures obtained by BBC News.

Some were as young as 11, most were white, 14 to 15 years old, and living at home.

About a third were under the care of the council.

Ann Lucas ran the project from its inception in 1997 until she retired in 2012. She is full of praise for the front-line officers she worked with, but is highly critical of some of their superiors.

In 2003-04, she and her team started mapping by whom the children were allegedly being abused, the addresses of where they were being exploited, the names and nicknames of the perpetrators and their car registration details.

‘Misconduct?’

She said all the information had been passed on to senior police officers but that no prosecutions had followed.

She said: “There were arrests and child abduction notices [were served], so they might move off that young person, but without the prosecuting strand being strong, we could divert the person away but with the message [to the abusers] that you could get away with this, so they would move on to other young people.”

In 2006, the service became aware that a group of teenage girls were being abused, allegedly by a group of Iraqi Kurdish men.

A document seen by BBC News shows that one 13-year-old girl told officials she had been raped by five men, had experienced physical violence, including being punched, kicked and burned with cigarettes, and had had threats made against her family if she told anyone.

Ms Lucas said she and another council official, had gone to see Jon House, who was chief superintendent for Sheffield at the time.

She said she had showed the former chief superintendent all the information they had collected, and asked that a police investigation be launched into the allegations.

She said: “I was told that their [the force’s] priorities were burglary and car crime and we had to cope with no extra police resources. It was extraordinary. How could anyone in their right mind think that burglary and car crime is more important than young people being raped?”

Staffing boost

Mr House, who has left the police and is now a senior manager with PWC consultants, said: “Without more, I cannot immediately remember the details of a meeting alleged to have taken place eight years ago. Throughout my period we had to deal with very serious issues on a daily basis.”

South Yorkshire Police said: “This is a question that only those involved can answer. South Yorkshire Police will look into these allegations and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the IPCC.”

Ann Lucas took her information, which included allegations that the girls were being moved to other cities, to the newly opened Human Trafficking Centre. They assessed it and asked South Yorkshire Police to investigate the claims. “They re-branded it as trafficking, which was a priority,” said Ann Lucas.

“They took exactly the same information back to South Yorkshire Police a few months later who took it on and mounted an investigation.”

Operation Glover led to six men being convicted. Aziz Hamed and Ajad Mahmoud were each sent to prison for 10 years for serious sexual offences, while two others also received substantial custodial sentences.

South Yorkshire Police said Operation Glover “was focused on child sexual exploitation and not human trafficking, although we understand the two are often intrinsically linked”.

Ms Lucas is delighted that more officers are now being asked to investigate child sexual exploitation and that it’s finally, maybe, receiving the priority it deserves. “I felt for years that I was banging my head against a brick wall because it wasn’t a priority,” she said.

Ms Lucas passed all her allegations on to Chief Constable David Crompton, of South Yorkshire Police, during a meeting last month.

In a statement, the force said “they will look into the allegations and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission”.

They added since 2013, there had been a six-fold increase in staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation.

And they said the National Crime Agency was to investigate how the force handled historical allegations of sexual grooming and that the terms of reference for that inquiry were being finalised at the moment.

BBC

Golden Globe-winning actress Samantha Morton to speak to police over child sexual abuse she suffered in care homes at the hands of workers

Published October 16, 2014 by JS2

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  • Actress has agreed to meet with officers to speak about abuse she suffered
  • Will be interviewed after making claims she was abused by care workers
  • Nottinghamshire Police say that they have agreed to meet later this month
  • 37-year-old spoke out about abuse saying it was rife in the 1980s
  • It came in the wake of a report detailing sexual exploitation in Rotherham

Award-winning actress Samantha Morton is set to speak to police over claims she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of care home workers.

The Golden Globe and Bafta winner, who spent most of her childhood living in institutions in Nottingham, spoke out last month saying she was abused by two male residential home workers when she was just 13.

She said that the abuse was reported to both the police and social services but neither was investigated.

Now the 37-year-old has agreed to be formally interviewed by officers, who could be set to launch an investigation after the claims surrounding the now closed Red Tile Home in Nottinghamshire.

The actress had previously revealed she had recently spoken to Nottinghamshire Police about her original complaint and was told the report contained only a reference to ‘frolicking’ and no sexual abuse.

However, a force spokesman today confirmed: ‘We have agreed a date and time towards the end of this month to meet with the individual concerned to discuss the matter.’

The double-Oscar nominee said she decided to waive her right to anonymity in the wake of a report detailing sexual exploitation of 1,400 children over a period of 16 years in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

She told the Guardian that she was subjected to abuse by two different perpetrators during her time in care, but was too embarrassed to report her plight straight away.

She explained: ‘I was embarrassed and the people that did what they did to me… I thought they were really nice people, so I was actually really shocked when it happened.’

The actress added: ‘I just wanted to go public with this, to say, we know it’s rife but why are there not further investigations into other areas? It isn’t just Rotherham, I’m sure it’s not just Rotherham

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‘A lot of people who abused my friends were people in very, very top jobs within the social services. Nottingham in the 80s was rife with that.’

Police are also said to be looking into claims about historic abuse at nine homes across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

A Nottinghamshire County Council spokesman has also said they were hoping to speak to Miss Morton about her concerns.

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In 2009 the double Oscar-nominee, who also starred alongside Tom Cruise in Minority Report, backed a Government campaign to recruit social workers in the wake of the Baby P scandal.

Speaking then Miss Morton said she experienced some ‘wonderful’ social workers who supported her and helped her realise her ambitions.

She said: ”My early life from infancy to leaving home at 16 was spent in care. I had some wonderful social workers who supported me and helped me achieve my goals in life.

by Jennifer Newton

Police accused of cover-up over loss of video interviews with abuse victims

Published September 22, 2014 by JS2

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Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was ‘deeply concerned by the serious security breach’

  • Interview recordings with abuse were being edited by a private firm for CPS
  • Computers containing the statements were stolen from Manchester office 
  • Police accused of cover-up after asking those affected to keep quiet about it
  • MP Keith Vaz says he is ‘deeply concerned by serious security breach’

Vulnerable victims of sex crimes have reacted with panic and fury after highly sensitive videos of their police interviews were stolen in an ‘unacceptable’ breach of security.

The theft of computers containing the statements sparked disbelief among witnesses when they were informed of the break-in.

And police were accused of trying to cover up the incident by asking those affected to keep quiet about it.

The recordings were being edited by a private firm in Greater Manchester for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Last night, Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Committee, said he was ‘deeply concerned by the serious security breach’ and voiced ‘surprise’ that a private firm had control of such data.

The loss is a blow for the CPS in the North-West, which oversaw the prosecution of the Rochdale gang in which nine men were convicted for exploiting dozens of girls as young as 13.

Publicity from the trial led to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse coming forward after suffering in silence for years.

But yesterday, it emerged that copies of their video statements had been stolen ten days ago, on September 11.

One witness, whose evidence related to attacks against her as a child, told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘I was told by police that my statement had gone missing. The CPS uses an outside firm to edit the videos and they were all stored on computers.

‘The office was burgled and they all went missing. We were asked not to make the theft public. We were told by police that they’d been recovered today. They said they hadn’t been tampered with but how do they know for sure?

‘You’d have thought these files would have been kept under tighter security.’

In a statement yesterday, a CPS spokesman said that it was now co-operating with a police inquiry following a burglary at the premises of Swan Films, a Manchester-based video editing contractor for the CPS.

He said: ‘During the burglary, it is believed that material relating to a small number of cases, including some police interviews with victims or witnesses, sent to the company since August 1 this year within the Greater Manchester area, were stolen. Master copies of all material are retained by the prosecution.

‘The computers containing this information have now been recovered and we can confirm that the sensitive information they contained was not accessed between the time they were stolen and their recovery.’

The CPS said it was now demanding an ‘urgent explanation’ of the security arrangements that had been in place.

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Mr Vaz said he would be challenging CPS boss Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, over the security breach when she gives evidence to the Home Affairs Committee next month.

He said: ‘The public will be surprised that such sensitive information has been out-sourced in this way.’

Richard Scorer, a Manchester-based solicitor who represents child sex abuse victims in Rochdale, said he was ‘appalled and extremely concerned’ by the affair and raised fears it would deter future witnesses coming forward.

Greater Manchester police commissioner Tony Lloyd branded it ‘an unacceptable breach of security’, and called on the CPS to review the security arrangements.

Asked if witnesses were told to keep quiet about the theft, Greater Manchester Police insisted its officers had ‘not been briefed to request victims to not pass on this information’, and that the Force had been ‘entirely open and transparent’.

by Brendan Carlin